Marveling at Marville: Opponents gush over her season

Leah Marville                                                                                                                                                        Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


Third-year thinclad

defeated 182-of-184

Hernando County foes


For once, a imagine the toughest guy on your block standing 5-foot-6 and weighing in at 114 pounds.

Leah Marville

Not much an imposing figure, right?

Just the contrary in the Hernando County cross country realm this season.

You see, Nature Coast Technical senior Leah Marlene Marville had local rivals marveling at her success along the neighboring trails.

Across her third varsity season – and returning from injury which claimed her entire junior campaign – Marville defeated 182-of-184 county foes (99 percent).

She was so impressive area mentors named her to the All-Hernando County squad for the second time.

Furthermore, Marville stood out enough to voted in as Runner of the Year.

Rewinding 2018

Retracing her senior year, the brown-tressed and blue-eyed Marville competed in nine meets.

She demonstrated strength and consistency crossing the finish line as the first Shark across eight races.

In all, she tied for the county lead with most top-10 placings (5) with teammate Keira Barbee.

Her top-10 efforts included stops at Inverness’ Whispering Pines Park (eighth), NCT Invite (ninth), Weeki Wachee Invite (third), 15th Hernando-Citrus Distance Classic (second), and the 2A-7 Meet at McKethan Park (fourth).

She posted her fastest time during the frigid Class 2A, Region II Meet at Hernando Beach’s Weeki Wachee Preserve finishing 12th overall in 17:56.30.

That clocking was just the second-ever time a NCT female runner in 16 seasons had ever broken 18 minutes.

A week later, she closed out her prep career placing 56th in the Class 2A State Finals in Leon County in 20:25.87.

Despite missing her entire junior season due to hip injury, Marville ended up competing in 23 meets.

In nearly half (11), she finished among the Top 10.

That feat ranks second all-time at NCT behind Amelia Schmit’s 12 top-10 efforts.

Her regional finish also ranks second-fastest at NCT behind Schmit’s school record time of 18:53.91.

Heaping praise

Area coaches heaped praise upon Marville’s ROY selection.

Eric Milholland

“Leah had a huge year for us … She was extremely dependable,” emphasized veteran NCT skipper Eric Milholland. “One of her biggest goals was to break 19 minutes and she achieved that in one of the biggest races of the year (regionals)

“… She’s a hard worker … Does a lot of cross training … Type of kid that wants to improve ,,, She’s got offers to compete in college … Wouldn’t be surprised if she competes at the next level.”

“She’s a senior and she’s an experienced runner,” shared Springstead mentor Joel Myers. “She got stronger as the season progressed … Her greatest assets? Her experience and her determination to be the best in this area … Breaking 20 minutes at a regional meet says something.”

Patrick Skipper

“She put in the work to be Runner of the Year … Obviously through her results, she’s just better than everybody else,” stressed Weeki Wachee’s Patrick Skipper. “This is not a subjective choice … I see someone who is competitive, puts the work in and performs at a high level week in and week out – that’s what separates her from so many others on Saturday mornings.”

“She sat out all of last year and came back and just killed it,” quipped Central High’s Kris Brooks. “She came back and dominated … She’s extremely talented.”

Marville says she overcame the doubters.

“I remember Keira Barbee asking me about my goals. She didn’t think I could it. So I had some doubters,” remarked the 18-year-old Marville.

“The bottom line is I believed in myself. If you want something, you’re gonna try a little harder.”

Asked what letter grade she’d give herself for 2018, “I’d give myself a B-plus,“ shared Marville. “I broke 20 minutes and helped lead my team to states.

“I pushed myself to drop time. I wasn’t dead at the end of he season. I felt like I could’ve given more.”

Challenger K-8’s girls track and field team captured the Hernando County Middle School Athletic Conference Meet Wednesday at NCT’s Shark Tank Stadium. Four Navigators braved the late-meet downpour to hoist this year’s first-place trophy including, left to right: Camryn Hay, Leah Marville, Brianna Savarese and Aliaya Cherry. Photo by TONY CASTRO

Marville 101

Retracing her athletic roots, Leah was born at nearby Spring Hill Regional Hospital as the youngest of five children to Frederick and Denise Marville.

Denise, who is a bank teller, played softball in her native Georgia.

Leah’s father, Frederick, was born and raised in Michigan. He too was active in athletics playing high school baseball, track and field and cross country. He also dabbled in soccer.

Leah has resided in Spring Hill with her father and grandmother since 2005.

Leah‘s first organized sport was gymnastics.

She entered the sport in third grade and stuck with for three years. Her specialty was the floor exercise.

Next, she performed as a runway model for a year.

Challenger K-8 Navigators

She enrolled at Challenger K-8 and participated in track & field throwing the discus as a sixth-grader.

She branched out to the half-mile and 1,600 meters as a seventh- and eighth-grader.

She vividly recalls busting out a 6:49 mile as an eighth-grader.

She trained during the summer prior to her freshman year on the California Street campus for cross country.

In her initial 5K, she posted a 26.11.00 time but shortly after, she was involved in a car accident.

It was so bad, her sister suffered a herniated disk due to the accident.

That freshman campaign, Marville competed in a county-high nine meets and produced zero top-10 finishes.

She closed out her first season of distance running ranked as the county’s 11th-fastest runner.

“I kinda learned to love cross country,” explained Marville. “I just wanted to get better. Credit belongs to my coaches.”

In her first varsity track season, she recalls competing in the 800, 4×800 relay and two-mile.

In 2016‘s cross country season, Marville‘s attention to detail began paying off.

Rayna King

She began making great strides and zoomed toward the top of the leader board ranking second in the local circuit to Central’s Rayna King – the county’s Runner of the Year.

In seven 2016 meets, Marville bested King twice. She was the only local runner to achieve that feat.

By season’s end, she notched six consecutive top-10 finishes (Riverwood, Central, Mitchell, Weeki Wachee, Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic and 2A-7 Meet).

Five times, Marville led the Lady Sharks to the finish line.

During track season, she continued her rise.

She was named All-County in both 2016 and 2017 in track and field as a member of the Sharks’ 4×800 relay squad and 1,600 meters.

In 2017, she injured her hip and was shutdown from running.

To maintain her strength she competed in weightlifting at 110 pounds.

She was cleared to run prior to her senior year and wound up with a sensational campaign.

She attempted to identify her return to success, “I’m the type of person who is always looking to improve,” noted Marville. “I like staying busy. When I‘m not in school, I‘ve worked at Arby’s for the last two years,

“When I wasn’t running, I think lifting weights really got me stronger. I felt I was doing too much cardio and not getting stronger.”

Marville feels she’s overcome her own personal demons, too.

“I think I overcame depression anxiety by running. Running seems to release my stress. Running has been my passion. The more and more I run, the more I pushed myself.“

SHARK MEDALISTS – Five of Hernando County’s top 15 medalists during the fifth Weeki Wachee Invitational at Hernando Beach all hail from Nature Coast Technical including (left to right): Leah Marville, Mackenzie Bell, Keira Barbee, Aliyah DiPalma and Isabel Dahmer. Photo by TONY CASTRO.

Looking back, Marville believes the regional meet at Weeki Wachee Preserve signaled a new high water mark.

“Breaking 20 minutes at Weeki Wachee was special,” beamed Marville. “I always hated running there because of all the pot holes along the trails. To me, that’s a difficult course.

“After all the ups and downs, and adversity dealing with the injury, reaching states with my teams made my senior year so memorable.”

On learning after the season that she ranked as the second-fastest runner of all time at NCT, “I feel happy, but I don’t want to stop there. As long as God is by myself all be alright.”

Looking ahead

Marville, who is in the medical cluster, has maintained a 3.5 unweighted and 3.7 weighted grade point average.

After graduation, she aspires to compete in college in cross country and track.

She’d like to become a physical therapist.

“I’d like to do a job that helps people,“ explained Marville.

On her legacy, “I’d like to be remembered as someone who worked hard and was very positive. Someone who always had a smile on their face.

“… I know the girls on my team looked up to Aliyah (DiPalma) and I. That meant a lot,” shared Marville. “I’m really gonna miss Nature Coast. The kids here are so supportive. The coaches – including Coach Milholland and Coach Story, I owe them so much. I’ve been fortunate. Even after an injury and missing a year of sports, I maintained my faith and was rewarded.”

NOTE: Marville would like anyone who could to help classmate Frank Tirado’s family.

By the Numbers: NCT’s Leah Marville (2018)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Leah Marville









@ Citrus High Invitational




@ Lecanto Invitational




@ 6th NCT Invitational




@ 5th Weeki Wachee Invitational




@ Land O’ Lakes Invitational




@ 15th Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic




@ 2A-7 Meet @ McKethan Lake




@ 2A-II Meet @ Weeki Wachee Preserve




@ 45th FHSAA State Finals @ Tallahassee



Marville vs. Hernando County Opponents

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Leah Marville







@ Citrus High Invitational



@ Lecanto Invitational



@ 6th NCT Invitational



@ 5th Weeki Wachee Invitational



@ Land O’ Lakes Invitational



@ 15th Hernando/Citrus Distance Classic



@ 2A-7 Meet @ McKethan Lake



@ 2A-II Meet @ Weeki Wachee Preserve



@ 45th FHSAA State Finals @ Tallahassee







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